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Friday Rockpile: Giambi Summons the Old Man Strength; Morales On To Greener Pastures

For the first time in his career, Jason Giambi had a 3 homer game. He proved that he is the man. The man with the plan. We aren't entirely sure what that plan is just yet, but I get the impression that it's "sticking around a MLB team for as long as humanly possible on grounds of clubhouse intangibles and Old Man Strength".

For all of the talk we've seen this week about Giambi being an anchor on an NL roster, he certainly stepped it up against Philadelphia - and not just with the 3 homers, but we saw him make a couple decent grabs in the game including a falling-down snatch of what was sure to be a hard roller into the corner.

The Rockies haven't had a 3-HR game from any one batter since 2004 when Larry Walker summoned said Old Man Strength (TM) and hit 3 of his own. Those 3 HR against Cleveland were half of the homers that Walker hit in a Rockies uniform that season. He hit another 11 for the Cardinals that season, and 15 the next.

Jim Armstrong gave us this little factoid as well:

Jason Giambi became the fourth major leaguer ever to hit three home runs in a game in his 40s, joining Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth. Giambi's first homer, a three-run shot off Kyle Kendrick, gave the Rockies the early lead in a 7-1 win over the Phillies.

The Problem with this whole Giambi situation is that a game like this will keep him on the team - not that he was realistically going anywhere anyhow, but it gives what looked to be an inevitable DFA/retirement a reason to wait around longer, especially with Interleague Play coming up. Other thing to think about: if Giambi is suddenly rediscovering his bat - well, "rediscovering" - he might see more playing time at 1B, unless Wigginton's bat picks back up to those 2 weeks before he hit the DL. Past Interleague, I'm sure we'll hear the standard rationales of being a clubhouse mentor guy and then before we know it it'll be August and then they'll be just keeping him around so that Helton is still rested for September and then oh look! It's September, rosters have expanded! Why would the Rockies DFA him now?

Giambi's role with the team confuses me so much. I'm in agreement with basically everyone - there's no room for a DH on an NL roster, but he brings that power threat off of the bench. I mean, hell, how many teams are still playing Matt Stairs? (Seriously though, when's the last time you visited Matt Stairs' player page? His list of jersey numbers is as long as the page.) Up until Thursday night, Giambi had brought very little to the plate. Last Saturday, however, when I saw the "Ask the Giambino" segment on the jumbotron, featuring Giambi wearing an absurd swami-esque hat/turban and a cape which he constantly threw over his shoulder,  I thought "We can never, ever get rid of this guy". The fact that Jason Giambi is still inexplicably a Colorado Rockie completely amuses me in about every way possible.

Whether or not it makes sense that Jason Giambi plays for the Colorado Rockies, the facts are that 1. Jason Giambi was awesome on the night of Thursday, May 19th, and 2. He won't be going anywhere until at least after Interleague. 

Off Topic

Last night marked the end of Franklin Morales' career with the Colorado Rockies franchise (as far as we know), as Morales was traded to the Boston Red Sox for a Player To Be Named Later (I'm hoping for Crash Davis) or cash.

Support system in clubhouse couldn’t save Morales’ job | All Things Rockies — Colorado Rockies news — Denver Post
Jim Armstrong is hard, but fair, on Franklin Morales. Morales had a lot of support and a lot of patience. As many of our commenters have pointed out, you don't just throw out a reliever who throws mid 90s with his left hand. As many of our other readers have pointed out, you don't walk 7 trillion batters per season and stay in a good place on an MLB Roster, either.

What was especially interesting is the way that Rafael Betancourt took a mentor role for Morales, trying to get Morales' head into the game, plan for hitters, things like that. It's funny how different the two are in pitching style: Betancourt throws a straight, hard fastball exactly where he wants it, and Morales throws whatever wherever however to whomever - rarely where the catcher wanted it.

My memorable moments of Morales are summed up all within about a month, maybe 6 weeks of baseball: Morales in Mid-September en route to a World Series berth, pitches 6 shutout innings against Jake Peavy and the San Diego Padres, striking out 6 and walking 4. Fast Forward to Game 1 of the World Series, where Morales came into the game in relief, loaded the bases, and then Ryan Speier walked in 3 runs. It was either filthy breaking stuff Morales or flinch 'n' balk Morales, and you never knew which was going to emerge from the bullpen.

Either way, we all wish you well, Franklin.

Matt Daley was called up to take Morales' roster spot. Daley had a very strong 2009 for the Rockies, pitching in 57 games with a 4.24 ERA (3.65 FIP, 3.97 xFIP) and very strong strikeout numbers. Daley also made 28 appearances in 2010 with the same 4.24 ERA, but an expected drop in strikeout numbers, but still a generally beneficial member of the bullpen. Coming into his promotion, Daley had posted a 6.28 ERA in AAA Colorado Springs (3.55 FIP), thanks to some HR inflation and bad BABIP numbers.

The Rockies now have 4 key members of the pen named Matt, if you hadn't already been inundated with "MattPen" references.